Do you read reviews before you go to restaurants, see a film, visit the theatre?
I try really hard not to but sometimes it’s difficult to miss them. I don’t know whether it makes me incredibly shallow but if I read bad reviews, I do get put off which is one of the reasons I have never visited Theo Randall at the Intercontinental on Park Lane.
And, what a huge mistake that has been.
I should clarify that it is not the quality of Theo Randall’s food that is subject to poor review – he is justifiably acknowledged as one of the best chef’s in London for his Italian cuisine.
No, it is the site and ambience of the restaurant which draws consistent criticism – a window-less basement with low ceilings and a ‘business lunch’ atmosphere doesn’t sound too enticing for a fun evening out, does it?
However, D and I do love Italian cooking and, with an empty Friday evening following a cancellation, we decided that satiating our hunger for Italian took precedence over prosaic surroundings and headed to Theo’s place.
To our huge surprise, we had a really good time … and not just in the eating.
First, wheelchair access. Was good. Yay.
D dropped me off on the pavement outside and I wheeled straight through, level all the way, to a platform lift, immediately to the right as you come through the entrance, which takes you down to the basement level where the restaurant is based.
A member of staff helped me at the top of the lift and another at the bottom. However, my helper at the bottom failed to point out that there is a bit of a lip as you roll off the platform. Cue muffled scream as my front wheels unexpectedly dropped a few inches. It’s not a problem drop but if you don’t know about it … ‘Could’ve done with a heads-up there, mate,’ I said, as agreeably as I could manage in my mini meltdown.
Wheeling into the room, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, the ceiling is low and there are no windows. The room is also long which exaggerates the low ceiling but it has been recently re-decorated rather tastefully – see the images below.
And the food was fabulous.
I won’t bore you with the details of our specific meal as the menu changes regularly, and certainly since we went a few months ago, but the pasta was divine, the ingredients fresh, the presentation very pretty, the staff friendly, helpful and not annoying. Outstanding.
It’s not uber-trendy or wildly buzzing but it is smart, grown up dining for when you’re hungry for excellent food, anywhere near Hyde Park Corner and with good company. We could even hear ourselves speaking.
It’s expensive – Hyde Park, people! – but not anywhere near as much as a multitude of vastly inferior name restaurants that are close by.
We had a great time and will definitely be going back … with friends.
Ooh, parking was a pain though as some event was on and their car park full. D parked miles away after dropping me off out front … always minimise the wheeling you do on London streets (pavement & pothole horrors – never voting for Sadiq Khan again). maybe it’ll be easier next time.
Theo Randall at the Intercontinental, Park LaneTheo Randall at the Intercontinental, Park Lane